Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sprout - An Eco-Friendly Timepiece

sprout logo

From the start, we made the conscious decision to be materialistic in a most unusual way. From corn resin, conflict-free diamonds, bamboo and cork in our watches to recycled content in our packaging, we focused on materials that are easy on the planet. Our strength lies in our long-standing passion for the traditional art of watch-making combined with an eye for design and an entrepreneurial, free-thinking spirit. 

sprout watch
Sprout ST/3800
Fun, sporty and eco-friendly, this Sprout watch is lightweight and water resistant to 165 feet. It features a corn resin case and bracelet and bamboo dial with day, date and 24 hour sub dials. The larger dial is unisex friendly - links are easily removable for a custom fit.  It also has luminous hands for easy time-telling at night.  In addition to using 80% bio-degradable materials such as corn resin case and buckle, organic cotton straps, bamboo dials, mineral crystal lenses and mercury free batteries in producing their watches, Sprout also donates to 1% for the Planet, Riverkeeper and Trees for the Future.  Super cute and green - this is a great everyday watch!

If you have a little one learning to tell time, be sure to check out the "time teaching sprouty" on their website.

sprouty
Sprouty
Disclaimer: This item was sent to me for review purposes, free of charge. No other compensation was offered or received. Some information was taken from the company website. All opinions are my own.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Meatless Monday - Roasted Butternut Squash and Black Bean Burritos

Burritos are one of our favorite foods. This vegan version is made with roasted butternut squash, black beans, brown rice, greens, avocado, salsa and cilantro. Butternut squash is a great source of fiber, vitamins C, A and E, manganese, magnesium, and potassium.

Roasted butternut squash black bean burrito
Roasted butternut squash black bean burrito

To prepare the roasted butternut squash, preheat oven to 400 degree.  Peel, seed and cut into 1 inch cubes

1 medium butternut squash

Toss with
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 Tbs grapeseed oil
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place butternut squash mix on baking pan and cook 45 minutes or until fork tender, tossing after 30 minutes.

Roasted butternut squash
Roasted butternut squash
Assemble burritos using large flour tortillas, rice, beans, salsa, greens, avocado and cilantro - or any other healthy ingredients of your liking.  Enjoy!

What are your favorite burrito ingredients?

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Fun Things Friday

We've all been enjoying having my brother and nephew stay with us for a couple days...especially Little A.  It's given me a little taste of what it would be like to have twins.  My favorite is hearing them converse in toddler/English/Lithuanian:)

Cousins
Cousins
Wednesday night we had the pleasure of tasting 8 reds from the Finger Lakes region.  It's fun to sit back at home tasting wines (especially on a school night), but we're looking forward to visiting some of the Finger Lakes wineries soon - hopefully this fall!

wine tasting - 50 States of wine
Wine tasting spread

The kiddos have been preparing for their talent show for a couple months now.  Munchkin with a group of kindergarteners will do Kung Fu Fighting, Gaigai with a group of 4th grade girls will do Annie's Hard Knock Life, and Tazer with a buddy will play an acoustic version of Sweet Child O'Mine.  The big show is tomorrow at our local theater - wishing them all good luck!!

Tazer guitar
Tazer practicing getting ready for the talent show


Happy Friday!
Any fun plans for the weekend?


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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wilderness Wednesday - Starved Rock State Park

Monday we took advantage of Kovas and the kiddos free day and headed down to Starved Rock State Park.  Starved Rock is one of our favorite parks - it always amazes us that we are only an hour and a half from home, yet the cliffs and waterfalls make it seem like we're in a different state entirely.  Nestled within 2,630 acres of lush forests visitors can hike either along the Illinois River or choose the bluff trail and enjoy spectacular views including 18 canyons formed by glacial meltwater and stream erosion.  Most of the trails that we have hiked are not paved and have many stairs, so not for strollers or wheelchairs.  We were prepared to carry Little A, our two year old in our Kelty backpack, but to our pleasant surprise - except for a couple of flights of stairs, he walked the entire way.

Starved Rock
Stairs at Starved Rock
Although we have not covered all 13 miles of trails that the park offers, we followed a route that we have done in the past - specifically to see the Wildcat Canyon.

Starved Rock - Wildcat canyon
Wildcat Canyon

We timed it perfectly with the weather - for our two hour hike we had sunny blue skies with near 50 degree temperature.  By the time we returned to the lodge for lunch, the clouds had moved in and the wind picked up.  Perfect time to pack up and head home - and as soon as we started to drive - Little A was fast asleep.

From hiking to fishing to boating, from horseback riding to bird watching (especially eagles) to camping, there’s so much to do that you’ll come back again and again. 


What's your favorite state park?


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Monday, February 18, 2013

Meatless Monday - Cauliflower and Cashew Korma

We've added a slow cooker meal to our weekly menu plan - and since Kovas is trying to be vegan, the Quick and Easy Vegan Slow Cooking cookbook has been my go to guide.  This week I made Cauliflower and Cashew Korma.

vegan cauliflower cashew korma
Cauliflower Cashew Korma

Coincidentally, the author of "Frazz" wrote about the toxins in cashews, so I did some quick research to make sure I wasn't poisoning my family:)


Though really seeds and not nuts, cashews grow inside of a shell-like structure that grows on a fruit. When buying “raw cashews” in the store, take note that these nuts have actually been steamed and are not entirely raw. This is because raw cashews contain urushiol, which is the same chemical that you’d find in poison ivy. It can cause the body to have a very similar reaction to one experienced from poison oak or ivy. If a high level of urushiol is ingested, it can be deadly. Cashew poisoning is rare, but those who handle them in order to manufacture them to get the shell off sometimes experience the side-effects (from http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-toxic-foods-we-love-to-eat.php).

Cauliflower and Cashew Korma

In large skillet over medium heat

1 Tbs coconut oil

Saute for 5 minutes, or until soft and aromatic
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp mustard seeds

Add
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cardamom
2 tsp Tandoori spice mix
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Transfer to slow cooker.  Meanwhile, in food processor, pulse until creamy
1 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 8 hours or overnight

Add and blend until creamy
3/4 cup vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups canned coconut milk
2 Tbs cornstarch

Add to slow cooker
1/2 medium head cauliflower, cut into medium florets

Add blended nut mix to the slow cooker and stir well to combine.  Cover and cook on low for 5 hours. Top with roasted cashews, fresh cilantro and season with salt and pepper.  Serve over rice.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Fun Things Friday

We have been renovating our kitchen for the past month and a half.  Except for a couple pieces of trim and backsplash (to be done at a later date), the remodel is complete!  Here are some before and after pictures...

kitchen remodel
Kitchen remodel

In honor of our 15 year anniversary and me turning 40 this fall, Kovas and I were planning on running the Chicago Marathon.  We're now thinking about running the Wineglass Marathon instead - combining two of our favorite things and really getting away for our anniversary.

wineglass marathon
Wineglass Marathon

We have a long weekend with the kiddos and Kovas off on Monday for President's Day.  If the weather is nice, we'll be taking the kids for a hike at Starved Rock.  We love to see how beautiful the park is during different times of the year.

Starved Rock
By the falls in Starved Rock


Happy Friday!  
Any plans for the long weekend?


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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Midweek Motivation

Instant gratification or long term satisfaction?

Midweek motivation - discipline
STICK WITH IT!!
From the ZOOMA Facebook page



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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Family Game Night and Vegan Popcorn

Even with our children's busy schedule, we have managed to keep Monday nights open for family game night.  Last night while playing Clue Jr., we decided to have popcorn.  Instead of using our usual spread (which we were out of), we decided to use nutritional yeast which is a good source of vitamin B12.

B12 is needed to make red blood cells and not having enough can lead to anemia which can make you feel weak and tired. Most people get more than enough B12 from eating meat, eggs, milk, and cheese. Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia usually occurs when the digestive system is not able to absorb the vitamin - if you have pernicious anemia, have had surgery to remove part of the stomach or ileum, or if you have problems with the way your body digests food.   Not eating enough foods with B12,  which is rare, but may occur in people who eat a vegan diet and older adults who don't eat a variety of foods can also cause a vitamin B12 deficiency (WebMD).

I had never used nutritional yeast in any recipe, so I was a bit apprehensive of putting it on our popcorn.  However, because it's a good source of B12,  I gave it a try...

popcorn with nutritional yeast
Popcorn with nutritional yeast
Air pop
1/2 cup corn kernels

Toss with
2 Tbs grapeseed oil
3 Tbs nutritional yeast
salt to taste

Fortunately the whole family enjoyed it - enough so that I had to make another bowl.

Do you have family game night?  
What are some favorite games?


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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Yaktrax Run Review

The Yaktrax Run is an ice traction device anatomically designed for use with running shoes. Run naturally on packed snow and ice with the Yaktrax Run's combination of removable spikes and steel coils, providing 360° of unbeatable traction. Continue your training during the winter with the same stability you are accustomed to on dry surfaces. The Yaktrax Run can be worn in temperatures as low as -41° Fahrenheit.


Yaktrax runs on Newtons
Yaktrax Run on my Newton Lady Isaacs


Features include:

  • Made of High Strength Natural Rubber 
  • 1.4 MM Stainless Steel Coils 
  • Carbide Steel Spikes 
  • Reflective Heel Tab and Performance Strap for safety 
  • Anatomic Right/Left Design for proper fit 
  • Lightweight - 9.7 - 11.7 oz.




Kovas and I received a couple pairs of Yaktrax Runs back in October...it was not until a week or so ago that we actually had a chance to test them out!

Out for our first stroll in the snow...
It's pretty easy to put on the Yaktrax Run - first put on your running shoes, then put toe of shoe into Yaktrax and stretch on to heel and then strap on top strap.  I was afraid they wouldn't work with the Newton platform, but no problems!  Once on, I almost forget I'm wearing them - except for the great traction they provide. Yaktrax cautions not to use indoors, on gravel, concrete or sanded roads cleared of snow and to avoid any non-icy, non-snowy surfaces when wearing Yaktrax.  Superb traction augmentation, lightweight, easy on-off and can be used for multiple shoes - Yaktrax Run are a must for those who live with snow and ice!

More information can be found on the Yaktrax websiteFacebook, and Twitter.

Disclaimer: This item was sent to me for review, free of charge. All opinions are my own.

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Meatless Monday - Hot Fudge Sauce

We have a tradition of "anything goes" for birthday desserts.  For Tazer's 12th birthday, he requested brownies with mint chocolate chip ice-cream, crumbled mint O's and hot fudge.  Here's the recipe for the decadent home-made hot fudge...delicious!  Great for dipping fruit also!

Hot Fudge Sauce
Hot Fudge Sauce


Combine in saucepan:

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1/2 cup dark chocolate chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon salt

Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, wisking often.  Remove from heat and stir in:
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Serve immediately. Store (if any left over) in refrigerator.

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com/recipe/sues-hot-fudge-sauce/.
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